Kenneth Mejia, a 31-year-old accountant, took an early lead Tuesday evening over three-term City Councilman Paul Koretz in the race for Los Angeles City Controller — with Mejia getting 61% of the vote, according to results released by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.
Mejia, a newcomer to city politics, declared victory on Twitter shortly after initial results were released Tuesday and celebrated his lead over the City Hall veteran.
“We did it!” Mejia tweeted.
Mejia picked up 43% of the vote in the June primary compared to 24% for Koretz. The race pits Mejia, an activist who seeks to change the status quo, against Koretz, who has questioned Mejia’s proposals and touted his own experience and connections at City Hall.
The city controller serves as Los Angeles’ chief accounting officer, overseeing audits, accounting operations and financial reporting — including submitting reports on the effectiveness of city departments.
According to his campaign website, Mejia would provide a detailed accounting of spending of the city’s homelessness budget, audit the cost of sweeps of homeless encampments and create databases of shelter availability and all housing units in the city.
Koretz’s website notes his current capacity as chair of the council’s Personnel, Audits and Animal Welfare Committee, where he oversees the controller’s financial and program audits.
Mejia has criticized Koretz for taking too long to address underfunding and staffing shortages affecting animal shelters in Los Angeles. Koretz introduced several motions requesting funding and adjustments to the Los Angeles Animal Services department a few weeks ago after a Los Angeles Times article in July widely exposed the lingering problems.
“After 10+ years of failing to address the animal shelter crisis, Koretz is using his last few weeks as committee chair to ham-handedly try to alleviate the crisis,” Mejia said on Twitter.
Koretz defended his role during a news briefing at City Hall earlier this month, calling it a “false narrative” that he could “make all the decisions to fix every perceived problem.” He said he has limited oversight over the department.
“I kept hearing and reading that I’m responsible for every complaint anybody has with Animal Services,” Koretz said. “Some of those allegations are motivated by genuine concern about genuine problems. Others, I suspect, are politically motivated.”
In interviews, Koretz has attempted to paint Mejia as a radical and far from the mainstream, while Mejia has been critical of the councilman being part of the status quo.